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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 22 Jan 2014

-Jail Time for Non-Jury Trial Sign Ordinance Conviction


Jury BoxWe have an update in the ongoing cases of David Mongielo, who is fighting a local sign ordinance that criminalizes and provides jail time for having a sign that changes too frequently to suit town officials’ whims. Mongielo was initially convicted of a sign ordinance violation in 2010 for allegedly having a sign that changes its message or format more than once every 10 minutes, an allegation that he has disputed. He was not afforded his supposedly Constitutionally-guaranteed right to trial by jury in this case. The judge who convicted him fined him and granted a conditional discharge and a suspended sentence of 15 days provided he not violate the ordinance again for a year. Mongielo was then convicted of a second violation in August 2011, again denied his right to trial by jury. This conviction, however, was overturned by County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, on the basis that he was denied his right to trial by jury. A new trial date for this second charge has yet to be set. Nonetheless, based on the alleged second violation of which he now stands NOT convicted (as it was overturned), and therefore to be presumed innocent, a judge has now sentenced him to 10 days in jail for violating the terms of discharge from his original conviction.

Years-long battle on sign ordinance brings 10 days in jail for Lockport auto repair shop owner

Lockport auto repair shop owner David J. Mongielo, who has faced a years-long battle over a sign ordinance violation and a subsequent sign charge that allegedly violated the terms of a conditional discharge, was sentenced to 10 days in Niagara County Jail by Town Justice Leonard Tilney Jr. on Tuesday.

Mongielo was not led out in handcuffs. Instead, he was allowed to get his family and business affairs in order and told to report to jail at 4 p.m. today. In the meantime, Mongielo’s attorney, Frank T. Haush, said he would seek a stay of the sentencing.

Tilney also dismissed the subsequent violation and planned jury trial, saying he would “not inconvenience 50 or so citizens” because he would not incarcerate Mongielo again, even if he were found guilty.

David Mongielo reports on his Facebook page that, “Niagara county Judge stayed sentence until investigation of Town Judge Tileny decision.”